Wednesday, August 12, 2015


photo by Takashi Ogino / flickr
Ever get tired of all the changes that surround us all? William Faulkner wrote about a man who tried to pull the hands off his clock. He desperately wanted to stop the changes he saw everywhere. It did not work. The clock just kept ticking.

We wake up some morning and wonder if we are in a foreign land. I have a whole notebook full of Passwords. Taking a trip recently I looked for all the cords that would recharge my life. Every contraption has a different cord. My I-phone, my I-pad,  my lap-top computer, my GPS, even a cord to keep my phone working as I move down the road. 

We’ve had to learn to text and call our six-year old grandchildren to help with the computer. We have to learn brand new lingo like Apps, Browser, Blue Tooth, Web site, Server and Online. Our notebooks are filled with
passwords,  pin numbers, and security questions.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Point to any area of our lives and we feel like we have been invaded. We worry about identity theft and newspapers that are shrinking in size. I heard of a Pastor in North Carolina that says she has started carrying a gun to church on Sunday morning. Is nothing safe or sacred? A buddy of mine is now serving a new church. He said to keep in touch with the millennials he has put his suit back in the closet, pulled on a pair of blue jeans and wears Nikes when he preaches.

We have our first black President and a Congress with an approval rating of 8%. Seventeen candidates at last count are running for President—and that’s only one party. There are 311 languages spoken in the United States. We’ve got movies that throw words around that used to only be scrawled on bathroom walls. Gays can now get married in every state in the union. In the play Green Pastures one character looks around him and says: “Everything nailed down is comin’ loose.”
photo by Premasagar Rose / flickr

How do we respond to a world that seems very different from the way we were?  An old relative
moans: “We’re going out just in time.”  Other folks just walk around furious. For many of us it is not fury but fear. We are scared of what all the changes mean. We worry about the world we are hurling our grandchildren into. Some of us quote Scripture in protest to all these changes. The Bible says—and you can fill in the blanks for yourself. Strange thinking when you realize the whole Bible is filled with change after change. Yet many of us are like the man that pulled all the hands off the clock. Unfortunately the clock keeps ticking.

photo by Jeff Simms / flickr
The old mapmakers looked out at the unknown territories and scrawled over those places: “Here be demons.” The unfamiliar and the uncertain are still on our maps. Every cultural shift has brought them to the surface. You can pick and choose—translating the Bible into English, the Protestant reformation, the Civil war,  freeing slaves, giving women the right to vote—putting an end to segregation—and having to take down flags or contend with same-sex marriage. At every point many have muttered: Here be demons. Every age has felt what we feel: the mails just don't seem to hold.

You might not remember Patricia Neal. In 1968 she was one of the women nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards. Most people did not know her story. In 1960 she was wheeling her infant son across Madison Avenue in New York when a cab hit her baby carriage and smashed it into the back of a bus. Her child lived, but there were months of hospitalization. Two years later her oldest daughter, Olivia contacted the measles and died quite suddenly one night without warning. In 1965 Patricia almost died. She had three massive brain hemorrhages and five heart attacks. Her speech and vision were impaired and her keen mind was blunted. Yin 1968 the Academy nominated her for her performance that came after so much suffering. One reporter asked her the secret of her survival and later recovery. She said it was not courage or anything particular in her DNA. She pointed to a copper plaque that was nailed to one of the beams overhead. The reporter looked up and read the words:

                                         "Fear knocked at the door.
                                               Faith answered.
                                             No one was there." 

Patricia Neal whispered to the reporter, "That is my secret."

All our clocks just keeps ticking. Change, sometimes hard and difficult, will continue to dog us all. But the folk who learn, like Patricia, to live beyond the fear, the gloomy headlines and the shifting terrain will find the way. The old hymn is right: "Change and decay all around I see. O thou who changes not abide with me."

photo by Faith Gallery / flickr

--Roger Lovette /


No comments:

Post a Comment